Professional Services Solutions: The Value of Integrated CRM
As professional services firms adjust to the ups and downs of economic cycles, executives are pressured to more efficiently manage their practices in order to attract, serve, and retain clients. They must efficiently and effectively address the challenges of providing an intangible product, all-the-while maintaining clear visibility into all aspects of their business – from sales through delivery.
Unfortunately, many firms rely on disparate systems with inconsistent data that makes managing client relationships and service delivery a challenge. For those professional services firms, however, that have taken to integrating their customer relationship management (CRM) software with their practice management application, the results are surely notable.
Here, I note the top five areas where we see the value of applying integrated CRM for professional services firms:
- Instill and Reinforce a Growth Culture As a result of the economic collapse experienced in 2008, professional services firms of all shapes and sizes are getting laser focused on growth initiatives. An integrated customer relationship management system can help support and reinforce a growth culture throughout an organization by allowing users to track all client, prospect and sales interactions; find, attract, and win new clients; and nurture and retain those the firm already has.
- Enable End-to-End Tracking Ask yourself, how much do you really know about your clients? What are their challenges? What are their preferred communications methods? By implementing an integrated CRM system, you can ensure a single source of data entry is utilized and referenced throughout your organization, enabling end-to-end tracking for all client and prospect interactions, from marketing campaigns through services delivery. This sharing of information across the organization can set the stage for proactive customer relationship management – a departure from traditional, reactive behavior to an approach where early action is taken in order to facilitate a desired result.
- Understand the Cost of a Lead and ROI of Marketing Efforts When relying on standalone customer relationship management and practice management systems, firms lack the visibility and reporting capabilities necessary to obtain a true view of the cost per lead and ROI of marketing initiatives. Integrating CRM with practice managements systems allows firms to close the loop, realign marketing dollars and more accurately budget for the future.
- Know Thy Services and Identify Opportunities for Cross-Selling Speaking from my own personal experiences, I know professional services delivery can often result in a tangled web. For example, at BCG Systems we provide everything from business solutions, development services and networking services, to backup and disaster recovery. Having a clear picture of what services you provide to clients is critical on two fronts – the first being that is allows you to clearly identify where you provide value to your client base. The second is that it brings to light opportunities for cross-selling your services.
- Provide Visibility on Upcoming Opportunities and Impact on Resource Utilization Just as retailers go through seasonal peaks and valleys requiring additional resources, the pipeline of a professional services firm can signal an impact on resource utilization. As a result, firms need to adjust accordingly in order to remain profitable. However, integrated CRM can provide the necessary visibility that helps feed into overall planning.
Without integrated CRM, the activities mentioned above can become huge, manual tasks that leave much room for inaccuracies, errors and ultimately an incomplete picture of your business. However, there are solutions to streamline and automate the process, allowing you to capitalize on your client and prospect interaction data.
If you’re considering integrated CRM for your professional services operation, I invite you to download the NetSuite WSI case study which showcases how WSI, a digital marketing services company, improved overall operations by implementing NetSuite, a complete and scalable online business management suite that covers everything from CRM to accounting, to supply chain and eCommerce. Then, feel free to contact me with questions about how NetSuite can support all the ways your organization works with cloud-based professional services automation software.